20 May 2017

Tanzania: Rukwa Residents Cautioned Over Ebola Outbreak

Photo: Luis Encinas/MSF
An isolation unit for patients affected by the Ebola virus in DRC (file photo).

REGIONAL authorities in Rukwa and Katavi regions have allayed fear over the outbreak of Ebola reported in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), insisting that so far there are no reported cases in the country.

Similarly, the two regions have so far dispatched medical kits and health workers to villages along the shoreline of Lake Tanganyika as well as embarking on an Ebola sensitisation mission which involves holding a series of public rallies.

The outbreak of the disease was reported in a densely forested part of Bas-Uele Province near the border with the Central African Republic. Cases have occurred in four separate parts of a region called the Likati health zone.

The Katavi Regional Commissioner (RC), Retired Major General, Raphael Muhuga urged residents of Ikola and Karema villages which are the major aerial passages for people from neighbouring DRC to be extra cautious.

"In our region (Katavi), mostly Karema and Ikola villages are at risk of being infected with the disease due to a large movement of people to and fro the DRC, therefore precaution over the disease must be taken," added the RC.

Expounding further, the retired soldier mentioned several precaution measures taken over prevention of a possible Ebola outbreak to include dispatch of medical kits and health workers to villages along the shoreline of Lake Tanganyika, mostly Ikola and Karema villages in Tanganyika District.

"We have embarked on sensitisation missions by holding a series of public rallies, but although the outbreak of such malady has not yet been reported in the region, we urge our people to be extra careful over the disease by being vigilant over the people from neighbouring DRC entering into the country," added the RC.

On his part, the Rukwa Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Zelothe Steven directed councillors especially those whose precincts are bordering with DRC to work closely with immigration units to ensure that people from DRC are not entering into the country arbitrarily.

On his part, the Acting Rukwa Regional Medical Officer (RMO), Dr Emanuel Mtika cautioned that Ebola is a swiftly spreading, fast-killing disease and could cause serious health consequences for citizens.

According to Dr Mtika, symptoms of Ebola include fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, fatigue, diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal (stomach) pain and, unexplained haemorrhage (bleeding or bruising).

"Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is eight to 10 days... ." added Dr Mtika.

Medical experience recounts that recovery from Ebola depends on good supportive clinical care and the patient's immune response, and that people who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years.

Ebola, according to medical literature, is a rare but deadly virus that causes bleeding inside and outside the body.

As the virus spreads through the body, it damages the immune system and organs. Ultimately, it causes levels of blood-clotting cells to drop. This leads to severe, uncontrollable bleeding.

The disease, also known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever or Ebola virus, kills up to 90 per cent of people who are infected.

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